Why do SS ranks end with 'Führer' ? At least most of them?

Today I was continuing to read about the ranks of the Waffen SS or in more general the SS. As part of my studying of the 17. SS Panzergrenadier Division ‘Götz von Berlichingen’ combat history. And I noticed that a lot of ranks, at least the higher ones. Are all have the ending ‘Führer’. Why is that? Is it a reference to Adolf Hitler or something? Or is there more detail behind all this?

It’s German for leader.

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It just means “leader”. Adolph was THE leader hence Der Fuhrer.

And now I hand it over to Spike Jones for a palate cleanser…


This one, like many other Spike Jones tunes, used to show up under the Smogberry Tree on Doctor Demento back in the day


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As others stated Führer is the masculine german for leader. And then prefixes are tacked on. For example hauptsturmführer translates to haupt=head sturm=storm führer=Leader

Therefore hauptsturmführer translates literally as main storm leader and more loosely as head assault leader. It is a rank equivalent to captain in US and commonwealth armies of the time

Lots of words with Führer in them in modern times as well.
Geschäftsführer = business leader or manager

Some of the above are titles for persons, some are books …

Hi Robin,
Zugführer as in train and Lokführer are literally the same. And don´t forget Führerschein = driving licence. To quote a well known comedian: “Der Führer war ein armes Schwein, den er hatte keinen Führerschein.”

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I guess the meaning was lost in the translation for me.

It’s a pun …

The Führer was a poor pig (often used in German to describe someone down on their luck)
Alas he had no driver’s license.

Happens to rhyme with:

Willst Du nicht mein Bruder sein?
Sonnst schlag ick Dir dein Schädel ein.

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Thanks for the joke! :+1:
Der Zugführer kann aber auch einen Zug soldaten anführen :wink:

For all of those challenged by the wild Germanic language:
Zug = smallish group of military, platoon?
Zugführer = platoon leader

it is also the conductor of a train which is not always the person pulling levers in the engine.

The Zugführer is the person in command of a train and can thus be the direkt boss of the
Lokführer. Specifically in trains carrying passengers.

Google translate says:
“The guide was a poor bastard because he didn’t have a driver’s license. "
but Google misses out on the implicit meaning of 'Der Führer” which almost never
means anyone else than the failed artists born in the family of a Austro-Hungarian
border official

SS ranks were based on the old SA and Stahlhelm ranks. They more or less signify the unit size and “leader”. A “schar” was a section or squad, so “unterscharfuhrer” equates to lance sergeant, “scharfuhrer” to sergeant. A “zug” was a platoon, a “sturm” was a company and a “sturmbann” a battalion. However the Waffen SS subsequently adopted army unit titles, so “regiment” replaced “standarte” (c.f. Leibstandarte “Adolf Hitler”), “batallion” replaced “sturmbann”, “kompanie” replaced “sturm”. An “abteilung” was a battalion sized unit, usually independent, so the “Panzerjagerabteilung” in a division was a battalion sized anti-tank unit. However there is slight problem in that battalion sized units within a regiment, e.g. the artillery regiment, could also be referred to as “abteilungen”. In the artillery, a company sized unit was a “batterie” and in the cavalry a “schwadron”. But the old party type rank titles were retained.


Robin thinks he’s the FunnyFührer!! :smile:

I don’t think I am
I know I am :wink:



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Scheiss Führer - to be precisely.

Now that “Der Führer” has the association with A. Hitler, then how do modern Germans refer to people as the leader? e.g. I ask who the leader in the marketing team is, do they use the various prefixes to specify the type of leader? Would the person asking for the leader also use the prefixes, or would he/she use the words “the leader” (no prefixes)?

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I think they always use the suitable prefix.
If you say ‘der Führer’ about the busdriver there will probably be some words said in return …


I think they tried to get away from that and hammered home the terms: Chancellor. Or Mayor., etc.


Der Führer started off as Reichskanzler, approved by the President Hindenburg

Burgermeister was the title before the war, my grandmothers father was the Burgermeister of Flensburg before the Nazi’s took over.

The Nazi boss for a larger area had the title Gauleiter

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